Recycle Your Fall Decorations

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It’s really sad that one of the most nutritious fall vegetables is often only used for
decoration and often overlooked for a healthy addition to your menu!! Besides being great for decorating, and the only vegetable that is carved and lit up, this low-calorie squash is rich in potassium and loaded with beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant), and its natural sweetness brings flavor to baked goods without any added guilt.
Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per one-cup serving and only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories. This aids in weight loss as well because a fiber-rich diet seems to help people eat less, and thereby shed pounds.
And believe it or not, the canned pumpkin retains most of the fiber and nutrients therefore making it almost equally nutritious to the fresh pumpkin. One note to remember is that when making your own fresh pumpkin puree it can be thinner than canned, so you may need to strain.
Wildlife will enjoy your pumpkins too. If you have already carved up your pumpkin it
has probably started to decompose, at this point, you won’t really want to cook it, but some great suggestions are to share with your wildlife friends;
-If the base of your pumpkin is still intact, cut off the base and fill with bird seed for
your feathery visitors. Squirrels also like pumpkin seeds (and bird seed for that matter), filling the decomposing jack-o-lantern with bird seed might keep the squirrels away from your bird feeders.-Cut your decomposing pumpkins into smaller pieces and throw into wildlife areas, deer and rabbits will enjoy them and you can enjoy watching them.
-Your backyard chickens will also enjoy pecking at the leftover pumpkin and its
seeds, be sure to remove any mold that may have formed before feeding it to them.
Plant your pumpkin, if you have a good spot, dig a hole and plant the entire pumpkin, and stand by to see what might happen in late August and early fall.
If your pumpkin is still intact. Give these healthy pumpkin recipes a try. You may enjoy pumpkin a whole lot longer this season!
Most pumpkin recipes call for a can of pumpkin puree, but if you have a pumpkin, you can make your own, here is a recipe I borrowed from The Pioneer Woman. It is supposed to be the best.

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

2 small or one large pumpkin
Select a couple of small sized pumpkins. Cut the pumpkin in half. Using a spoon or a scoop, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the center. You don’t have to be too thorough with this.

Reserve all of the seeds in a separate bowl. Repeat until all the pumpkin pieces are largely free of seeds and pulp.
Place the pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet (face up or face down; I've done both) and roast in a 350°F oven until the pumpkin is fork-tender, 45 minutes. They should be nice and light golden brown when done.
Peel off the skin from the pumpkin pieces until you have a big pile of the stuff. If you have a food processor, throw in a few chunks at a time. A blender will work, too, if you add a little water. Or you can simply mash it up with a potato masher, or move it through a potato ricer, or process it through a food mill.
Pulse the pumpkin until smooth. If it looks too dry, add in a few tablespoons of water during the pulsing to give it the needed moisture. (Note, if the puree is overly watery, you should strain it over cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to get rid of some of the liquid.)
Dump the pureed pumpkin into a bowl, and continue pureeing until all the pumpkin is done.
You can either use this immediately in whatever pumpkin recipe you'd like or store it in the freezer for later use.
To store in the freezer, spoon about 1 cupful of pumpkin into each plastic storage bag. Seal the bag with just a tiny bit of an opening remaining, then use your hands to flatten out the pumpkin inside the bag and push out the air. Store them in the freezer until you need them.
Yields 6 servings, depending on the size of your pumpkin. Using the puree from scratch will give you a better flavor than the canned version.

Pumpkin and Oatmeal Muffins with Nuts

3 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cups reduced-fat milk
1 cup unseasoned pumpkin puree
½ cup light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Stir oats, milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and eggs together in a large bowl until fully incorporated.
Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each almost to the top. Sprinkle evenly with pecans.
Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yields 12 servings.

Roasted Pumpkin Apple Soup

4 pounds pie pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
4 large sweet-tart apples, unpeeled, cored and cut into eighths
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Toss pumpkin (or squash), apples, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Spread evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, for 30 minutes. Stir in sage and continue roasting until very tender and starting to brown, 15 to 20 minutes more.
Transfer about one-third of the pumpkin (or squash) and apples to a blender along with 2 cups broth. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a Dutch oven and repeat for two more batches.
Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and heat through over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to prevent splattering, for about 6 minutes.
To toast chopped nuts, small nuts and seeds, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
Serve each portion with chopped toasted nuts.
Serves 12, each serving contains: Calories 180, Fat 9 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates
25 g, Protein 3 g, Fiber 6 g, Sodium 525 mg.

The Creamiest Ever Pumpkin Pie

1 can (15oz) pumpkin or sweet potato puree
1 (13.5oz) can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup rolled oats (20g)
2 tbsp. ground flax
1/3 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
Pinch stevia, or 2 tbsp. extra brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400F. Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
Pour into a prepared pie crust (or make your own) in a 10-inch round pan.
Bake 27 minutes (it will still be underdone after this time, which is okay!), let it cool, then refrigerate at least 5 hours uncovered for the pie to thicken and “set.”

Basic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons canola oil
Salt to taste
Optional seasonings to taste
Liven up this basic recipe by tossing the seeds with additional herbs and seasonings. Use about one tablespoon of seasoning for every two cups of roasted pumpkin seeds, but you can adjust to taste. For a twist, try adding these seasonings to the basic recipe:
Barbecue seasonings
Everything Bagel
Curry spices
Cinnamon, ginger, and sugar
Garlic powder and cayenne pepper
Parmesan cheese
Brown sugar, chili powder, and nutmeg
Tip: Remove pulp by rinsing the seeds through a strainer. Also, make sure the seeds are completely dry before roasting.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss pumpkin seeds with canola oil and salt.
(At this stage, also add any additional seasonings to the mix.) Spread pumpkin seeds evenly onto a baking sheet in one layer.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the seeds are crisp, stirring every few minutes.
Remove from the oven and, if desired, season more to taste.